Episode Summary

We work pretty hard to make Draft2Digital the easiest part of your author experience, but sometimes there are just questions we couldn’t anticipate. That’s why we’ve built the best author support team there is! In this episode of SPI, you’ll hear from Tara Robinette, the head of that team and one of the biggest reasons that authors love to say that D2D has the best customer support on the planet. Judge for yourself.

Episode Notes

D2D’s Tara Robinette, Director of Operations & Customer Support, sits in to answer the most asked questions from D2D authors!

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book, authors, isp, digital, draft, print, amazon, question, people, publish, paperback, ingram, kobo, promos, link, beta, tara, alyssa, apple, submit


Mark Lefebvre, Tara Robinett, Dan Wood, Kevin Tumlinson

Kevin Tumlinson  00:01

Well, hello, everybody. This is Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. I am Kevin Tumlinson, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations. To my virtual, I guess it’s my virtual left, is Dan—you know, I can’t figure out directions on this thing—is our good, good friend. Well, I’ll let him introduce himself. Dan, why don’t you go ahead and tell us who you are and what you do.

Dan Wood  00:26

I’m Dan Wood. I’m the VP of Operations here at Draft2Digital.

Kevin Tumlinson  00:31

And below him is our friend Mark Leslie Lefevbre. Mark, introduce yourself.

Mark Lefebvre  00:36

Hey, I’m coming to you from the Waterloo, Ontario office of Draft2Digital. I’m the Director of Business Development and delighted to be here.

Kevin Tumlinson  00:44

Currently, the very chilly north from what I understand. And then to his virtual left or right is Tara. Tara, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself. You’re kind of the star of the show today.

Tara Robinett  00:57

Oh, awesome. Hi, everyone. I’m Tara Robinett. Do a dance? I’m Tara Robinett. I am the Director of Operations and Customer Support here at Draft2Digital.

Kevin Tumlinson  01:10

All right, we are a big chunk but not the full team at Draft2Digital. But probably if you’ve ever had a question about what Draft2Digital does or a question about something that may have gone wrong with what Draft2Digital does, we’re the people that you probably talked to the most. Actually, we got an entire CS team that probably answered your question a lot better than the three guys here would have. So we are, there’s a lot we’re gonna be covering today. And one thing in particular, well, first of all, we want to say happy holidays to everybody. We know there’s the, worldwide, the Christmas holiday’s coming up, Hanukkah is happening, we got all kinds of things probably I’ve never even heard of. But I hope you’re having a really happy and good one. We’ll be talking a little bit about what we are doing, what we’re going to have to, what’s going to have to happen as far as holiday hours and making sure that you’ve got your books in on time before the holidays kind of throw everybody off. We’ll talk a little bit about that. And we’re going to be answering questions about, maybe if you’ve got some pressing questions about the inner workings of Draft2Digital, this is the time to ask. Tara will be happy to share her perspective from the support side of the business. And you may even get some decent answers out of the rest of us too. So go ahead and ask anything you want in the little comment sections below. Wherever you happen to be, Facebook, YouTube, whatever, pop in, ask any questions. I can already see some people starting to pop some comments. And so we’ll get to some of that in a little bit. But first of all, Mark, you actually I think had an interesting question to open with for Tara. Do you want to pitch that to her live? 

Mark Lefebvre  03:00

Yeah, I thought this might kickstart things quite nicely for people who are thinking about questions to ask. Well, Tara, what are some of the things that you and your team would want to make sure authors know, because it’s sort of common, or repeated questions that come up regularly? That’s probably a good place to start, I think.

Tara Robinett  03:18

Sure. Now, there’s a lot. And so I’m going to high level it here. But just off the top of my head, because this has come up just recently. ISBNs seem a little difficult for some people. ISBNs are heavily used in print, not quite so much in digital, but some of our smaller vendors still require ISBNs so we submit with ISBNs and we offer free ISBNs to our authors. That’s a wonderful service that we are happy to provide. But ISBNs, one thing I wish that more authors knew and understood is that when you’re submitting for print, a new unique ISBN is extremely helpful when it comes to submitting through multiple services. We … technically, it’s supposed to work if you submit the same ISBN through Draft2Digital for print, and through say Amazon or another service through print. But things get a little fuzzy in there, and we are constantly having to untangle projects, because the same ISBN is being submitted through multiple services. So that’s one thing that I really wish authors knew more about or even had some sort of heads up. I hate when somebody purchases their own. Those are expensive, and things don’t go as planned. I never like to hear about that. So I would just love to share with authors that that is … it is my advice that you use a unique print ISBN for every vendor you’re submitting through. That’s really one of my main things that I wanted to share.

Dan Wood  05:06

Especially if you’re in Canada or one of the other countries where you get free ISBNs. For those of us in the US, they cost money. And if you’re an author and you’re buying them like 10 at a time, they are very expensive. We buy them 100,000 at a time, and they’re not so expensive. And so that’s one of the ways we can give them away. That being said, the ISBN does have to stay with us. So you can’t use an ISBN that you got from Draft2Digital for another platform. But like Tara said, ISBNs don’t really matter that much in the digital world anymore.

Tara Robinett  05:42

Exactly. Right. Most of our bigger vendors are using their own internal SOC numbers even, so it’s really not quite the same for digital it is for print. And I think that might be where some of the confusion lands, a lot of our authors have extensive experience with digital publishing. And they might just now be trying out print. So it is different. It is something to learn more about.

Mark Lefebvre  06:06

Tara, can I ask a follow up question on ISBNs? So, this is something that comes up a lot. So if you do not have an ISBN, Draft2Digital will purchase them, and we’ll supply one for you. Authors often are trying to find out, because they don’t know what their ISBN is, when the ISBN actually appears, whether it’s draft or published, and where they can find that ISBN. And so if they’re like submitting to a promo or whatever.

Tara Robinett  06:31

Absolutely, that that comes up quite a bit too, because of people who are submitting to promos ahead of time, even before they’ve launched their book. We do not assign the ISBN until you click “publish my book.” Even if it’s a pre-order, future release date, you’ll get your ISBN as soon as we submit it, but we don’t assign it until you click “submit my book.” Now we do that carefully. We do that on purpose, because we have 100,000 drafts in our system that people have set up and never published. If we were assigning ISBNs the minute they created a project, we would be blowing through ISBNs. And so that’s why we do wait. But as soon as you click publish, once it runs through our system in 24 hours max, you’ll see your ISBN. It’ll be on your My Books page, directly beneath your cover image, you’ll see ISBN and the number. Now that’s either on digital or print if you’re using our ISBN, or even your ISBN, and that’s where it will display is My Books. And then if you look right under your cover image, you’re going to see the ISBN number. If you can’t find it, let support now and we’ll help you.

Kevin Tumlinson  07:47

Excellent. Now I want to throw in real quick, if you are in the comments, if we’re not able to get to your question, by the way, we have a special friend in the comments, Elyssa. She’s out there power working for everybody. If you ask a question that we’re not able to answer on the air, she will try to help you out in the comments. So feel free to ask anything you want. I wanted to post this real quick, this comment came in on Facebook, because it’s so complimentary. “Hello, I just wanted to say thank you because every time I call, everyone has been most helpful and I appreciate it so much. Happy Holidays to you and family.” So lots of people appreciate the author support that Draft2Digital offers. And Tara, you and the whole team are responsible for making us look really good, so thank you so much.

Tara Robinett  08:36

Yes, our team … we’re a small group, but we work really, really hard. And we have built a lot of relationships with a lot of our authors. I mean, so many of you know my name, I know your name. We communicate often. And we’re always happy to help, anything we can do to help you guys. We work for you, so just let us know what you need from us.

Kevin Tumlinson  09:01

So this question—oh, this was actually not the question I meant to click on, but we’re gonna ask anyway. So “Sorry, joining this live late. Is the advice to use different ISBNs for the same book (say paperback) across different platforms, ergo D2D, Amazon, Ingram Spark, etc.? Won’t that look odd, five ISBNS one book?” Which sounds like it might be a popular YouTube video at some point.

Tara Robinett  09:27

It’s a great question. Let me ask you this. When you are going online to purchase a book, how often are you going and looking at the ISBN? We don’t look at that. It’s not an issue. You can use separate ISBNs when you’re going to Draft2Digital in print, when you’re going to Amazon in print. Draft2Digital submits books both to Amazon and Ingram. And if you’re going through Amazon’s KDP print and you select expanded distribution, then you’re going to Amazon and Ingram as well. So we cover all of it. It does not affect your listing. So long as the book title is the same, everything will link up properly. If you’re concerned about things like getting on a New York Times bestseller list, the ISBN is not an issue. They report through the title and author name. So all of your sells are going to link up, no problem. But the difficulty is trying to represent two unique products. It’s the same book, but one is through Draft2Digital, one is through Amazon print. Two unique products using the exact same ISBN, the same identification number. That’s where we run into problems. That’s where we’re constantly having to untangle. So yes, a unique ISBN for your book going to Amazon, your book going to Draft2Digital. That is what we recommend. You won’t encounter problems if you do it that way. And we offer free ISBNs, so it’s not going to cost you money.

Mark Lefebvre  10:58

Can I add something to that? From an author perspective, it probably doesn’t make sense to go with Amazon extended distribution and use Draft2Digital print and use Ingram Spark. That’s just going to be a mess for everyone, because all of them are ultimately going through Ingram, and there’s going to be a clash there. So you probably want to pick your strategy. And the strategy I would advise is, if you want extended distribution, there is really no proper extended distribution for Amazon. You only get that from a service like Ingram Spark or D2D Print. Amazon is great for Amazon, in my humble opinion, but not so great for everywhere else.

Tara Robinett  11:40

I would agree with that.

Dan Wood  11:42

I would definitely say, pick. Like, there’s no reason to double list your books in multiple services. Yeah, I think I would either go with, like our print beta is still a beta program. So we’re still working through some things, but where we get you into Amazon and Ingram’s catalogs. Or go into Amazon for Amazon only, don’t pick their extended distribution, and then go to Ingram as well. That’s going to get you the widest possible distribution. I mean, it is pretty common for there to be multiple ISBNs of a book in traditional publishing. Those tend to be like different covers, sometimes they’ll have a different forward. So it’s not unheard of. For print on demand, it really doesn’t make a huge difference. Where you might see issues is, it might make it a little bit harder for a small bookstore to find your book. Like, it might just cause a little bit of confusion if they see multiple versions. But it’s really not going to have a huge impact. And still most of the sales are going to tend to be digital ebooks anyway.

Kevin Tumlinson  12:49

So this is sort of somewhat tangentially related. We have William from YouTube asking, “I read that a majority of booksellers won’t use Amazon’s extended distribution system. If we upload our D2D paperback, it looks like it will go to Amazon. How do D2D distributors know it’s from D2D?”

Dan Wood  13:09

I think maybe Mark might be the best person to answer that one.

Mark Lefebvre  13:14

Yeah, well the first thing is, the extended distribution from Amazon is definitely going to be a significantly short discount. It’s 11 points less than you would get from Draft2Digital. So the bookstore on the receiving end is likely not even to accept it because Amazon’s seen as the enemy trying to kill all the bookstores. In terms of distribution … so, what normally happens is Amazon tends to favor Amazon. So through our print partner, if typically, if you were to use the same ISBN because you purchased it and you put it in Draft2Digital, what often happens is our partner will submit it to Amazon. And then if Amazon already has it, it’ll just block the upcoming one. Or it’ll cause Tara and team some issues, in terms of confusion. And rightfully so, when you’re publishing direct with Amazon, you’re gonna make a bit more margin because there’s no middle people distributing, right? So there’s a benefit to you as the author if you are publishing direct to Amazon. Now there are some people who don’t want to deal with Amazon, in which case then you just can use that system. Either Ingram Spark or Draft2Digital.

Kevin Tumlinson  14:20

Our questions regarding D2D Print are strong today. So, “I’m wanting to ask about shipping paperbacks to the UK. I understand you don’t as yet. I’m thinking of publishing with you for digital and Ingram Spark for paperbacks. Is that okay and likely to work?”

Tara Robinett  14:36

Absolutely. That would work great. Our beta is currently shipping to US and Canada. You can ship to the UK, but the expense is outrageous because we’re printing in the United States. That doesn’t affect your distribution, though. You’ll still see your books live in the UK. It’s just what we can do for author copies. Copies that are just at cost sent to the author. We’re only really able to do that right now in in US and Canada, efficiently and at a low cost.

Kevin Tumlinson  15:12

Yeah, I want to emphasize that because I’ve had a lot of people, especially in Australia who were asking about this, but … In terms of the books arriving to your customers who order them, that’s gonna look pretty normal. That’s going to be the average costs. When we talk about an additional cost for shipping, it’s all about the author copy. So if you’re trying to get copies for yourself through the service, because they’re only printed in the US right now, that’s why it would cost so much. We’re working on solutions, Mark has been digging in and trying to find some solutions to that problem. So hopefully …

Mark Lefebvre  15:49

Only because Mark’s outside of the US.

Kevin Tumlinson  15:51

Yeah, because Mark can’t get his own author copies for reasonable prices right now. Okay, so here’s another follow up question from Lucy. “Also, if I publish with you and link to Amazon through you, would Amazon carry paperbacks as well as digital versions?”

Tara Robinett  16:12

Only if you’re using us to get your paperbacks live. When you’re setting up a book on our site, you click, I’m setting up an ebook, or I’m setting up a paperback. Once you set up an ebook, you’re offered the option to now set up a paperback. You can’t publish an ebook, a Kindle book, to Amazon and see your print book. But if you publish your print book to Amazon, you will see both and they will link correctly.

Mark Lefebvre  16:38

And just so you know, if they’re not linking correctly, as an author, I’ve gone into KDP, my Kindle Direct Publishing account, gone into the Help section and asked them to please link. Because I do a paperback through Draft2Digital, a hardcover through Ingram, and an ebook directly from Kindle. And when they don’t line up, the metadata has to match. Right? The titles have to match. But they’re usually pretty good about making the links, because they want to be customer friendly. They want the customers to be able to find the right version.

Tara Robinett  17:09

Yes, and if you’re using Amazon for digital, and Amazon for print, customer support can get those linked up for you. We have a portal that we can go in and enter the ISBNs and make sure they link properly.

Kevin Tumlinson  17:25

All right, we have a question from Caleb coming in from Facebook: “I have a question.” That’s good. “I’m wanting to put out a children’s book with words and illustrations. How should I format my manuscript to submit?” And if that, by the way, if your little picture there is any indication of your illustration work, that looks great, man. Good work. 

Mark Lefebvre  17:49

Yeah, that’s amazing art. 

Kevin Tumlinson  17:51

So how would Caleb go about formatting his manuscript if he wanted to use us for distribution?

Mark Lefebvre  17:58

Are you on a Mac?

Tara Robinett  17:59

Yeah, good question. 

Kevin Tumlinson  18:02

Who wants to start?

Dan Wood  18:04

it’s honestly not easy. In general, illustrations are not in a great place for digital formats. You know, what we publish in primarily is ePUB format, which is reflowable text. So it makes a book look right on your phone, or your iPad, or whatever device you might be reading on, a Kindle. With pictures, it becomes significantly harder. So there’s what’s called a fixed layout ePUB. That’s kind of what’s recommended for things where you kind of need to control size. Our automated conversion does not do that. You can use our system to make an ePUB that’s got pictures in it. But it really depends. Like, you can try the system and see if it looks good or not, but we don’t guarantee that part. Like it’s just something that … there’s not a good way to automate it right now. In general, for things that have a lot of illustrations, I generally recommend people go to an actual professional book formatter. It’s one of the few places where I think the money is well spent. Because they’ll need to give you a fixed layout ePUB.

Tara Robinett  19:20

I agree. And what I always tell people who write into customer support is, try it. Just try it. Upload your Word document the way you want it to look. And just try it, run it through our system. You can do this for free and you will be you’ll be able to see exactly what we produce. For some people. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what they wanted. It really just depends on what you’re creating. How much art, how heavy, does the text have to remain next to the art? There’s just a lot to it, but definitely give our system a try. And just see. You might be shocked and it may work perfect. Or you may need to take it a step further and work with a formatter.

Dan Wood  19:59

There are limits on the file size that might not be clear to you that, like with Amazon, for instance, they charge you for a delivery fee, like if you’re over certain sizes of files. And so you might end up, because you’re putting in a lot of pictures and pictures take up a lot more space than text does, you might not end up making any money off the ebook. Or, you know, Amazon might even charge you for the ebooks you’re selling. So it’s just like a consideration. It’s such a complicated thing that it’s one of the few times where working with a professional is recommended.

Kevin Tumlinson  20:38

Yep. All right, so Tori asks, “So if you publish through D2D and publish wide, do you assign a separate ISBN for each platform published to?”

Tara Robinett  20:50

We assign a separate ISBN for digital, and then for print. And it’s not like a unique ISBN for iBooks. And a unique ISBN for Barnes & Noble. That’s all digital. And the same with print. It’s not a unique ISBN for Amazon and a unique ISBN for Ingram. It’s print ISBN. And so two ISBNs get assigned if you’re using our ISBNs and going into digital and print format.

Kevin Tumlinson  21:17

All right. Coming in from YouTube. “And now the question I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time. When do you think the print version will be out of beta? And when will it be in full throttle?” I may have butchered that question. But I think we get the gist. When was beta going to be done and we’re in the full release of D2D Print?

Dan Wood  21:39

No official answer on that. We’re working hard on it, we want a really good solid product. It takes time to do that. Print is very different. COVID-19 definitely delayed it quite a bit. And so just, it’s in the air. We’re going to keep it in beta until we think it’s worth, you know, it’s a Draft2Digital level product. And right now, it’s not quite there yet. You know, one of the things we want to solve is that international piece. So much of our success comes from working with international authors, and so that’s very important to us.

Kevin Tumlinson  22:16

And we should say, just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it’s missing any features. It’s a full-featured resource that you can use right now. I’ve been using it for the past couple of years. Every single print book that I sell is done through this service. So the quality is there in terms of the books themselves. Distribution is there, it’s just that there are these little pieces, like getting you a author copy at a decent rate, that we’re still working to solve. So don’t be afraid of that beta. For the most part, beta means we’re bringing people in a few at a time instead of all at once. But everything else is pretty much working.

Dan Wood  22:55

Yeah, please recall Gmail. Google kept Gmail in beta for like a decade. Sometimes for certain products, that’s just what you got to do.

Tara Robinett  23:05

KDP kept CreateSpace in beta the entire time. For years, we worked with CreateSpace. And it was always a beta. These things just take time.

Kevin Tumlinson  23:14

I think Facebook’s a beta, right? Moving on. So, this is about our, so we have our formatting tool, and everyone really loves it. But I get questions like this quite often. Bria is asking, “For paranormal books can you guys add vampires, werewolves, etc.for the formatting pictures?” I’m guessing meaning like the page decoration stuff.

Tara Robinett  23:35

Yes, the scene breaks and those wonderful illustrations that Elyssa does for our team. That’s something, I know Elyssa wants to add a lot more as she has times. So make suggestions just like this. Make suggestions, tell us what you need, what you want to see. We’ll make sure Elyssa knows about it and gets it on her list to do. We love to hear about that. I think a lot of our authors really enjoy going through those different styles and selecting some unique styles to use on their books. It gives it a really unique look to your book and a professional look to your book. So we’ve had a lot of feedback on that. But definitely keep us informed with what you feel we need to add. And we’ll make sure Elyssa knows about that.

Dan Wood  24:26

Dinosaurs. We need dinosaurs. 

Kevin Tumlinson  24:29

We do need dinosaurs. Okay, in a similar vein, Amos is commenting on back cover design. So some of you may not realize, but if you are using us for D2D Print, if you have an ebook that has an ebook cover, meaning it’s just the front cover, and you didn’t get a fully designed cover for your print book, we have a tool that will automatically turn your ebook cover into a print-ready cover. So it expands it out and gives it a back cover, a spine. And it’s all formatted to fit your book precisely. So, there, Amos has asked me if maybe we can give a few more controls over the layout and look of that. So not a bad suggestion, but a good excuse to bring up that we have that tool.

Dan Wood  25:15

And I want to put a plug in that our newly released feature for payment splitting works for digital and works for print. So if you’ve thought about doing collaboration with other authors, great time to do it.

Tara Robinett  25:30

And I will say in regards to that, Dan, we had an author who did a collaboration on a print book. She, I believe, was the editor working with an author. So they collaborated on this project. She wanted her name removed off of the spine of the book. We offer that level of control on the print version of your book. You can actually edit and modify what metadata is displayed. So she was able to take her name off and just leave the author’s name. However she wanted that to look.

Dan Wood  26:04

You might not should have told Mark that, because he’s gonna go into that collaboration with Kevin and it’ll just be Lefevbre and Mark Leslie all over the whole book.

Kevin Tumlinson  26:16

It’s gonna be Kevin Leslie Lefevbre. We’ve had a couple of people ask about payment options and mentioning PayPal specifically. So I’m gonna let this question be the ultimate version of that. So “I see can you can pay royalties through international direct transfer. I’m not a fan of PayPal, have you experience of doing that to UK banks? My bank hasn’t answered yet if they accept them.” So we have various ways to pay people. You guys want to go run through some of those?

Tara Robinett  26:49

We offer payment through PayPal, which she didn’t particularly like, direct deposit for US or international, including UK banks. We have an enormous amount of UK authors that are using that option. And Payoneer. And then of course, we can always just send a paper check. But yes, we use Western Union. So they’re the ones paying the UK banks. We have found them to have the lowest conversion fees on the market. We’ve reviewed extensively, to try to find the best products we can for you guys, but we have a lot of experience paying UK authors through direct deposit. So definitely if that’s what you’re interested in, set it up.

Kevin Tumlinson  27:33

All right. Now, continuing our discussion of things to include in our layout tool, “Cowboy hats,” Erin writes us. So I think coffee cups

Dan Wood  27:44

How do we not have that? We’re from Oklahoma. You’d think we would have like cowboy hats, shotguns …

Tara Robinett  27:50

Lassos, yeah.

Mark Lefevbre  27:54


Kevin Tumlinson  27:55

Or for our Canadian friend, icicles, snowshoes, hockey stuff. Yeah. Okay, so there’s a lot of chatter going on. Cats and dogs, someone just recommended. Elyssa did pop in to say she is writing all these down, so those suggestions are going to be taken seriously.

Dan Wood  28:17

Elyssa’s gonna stab us at the end of this one. This is the one where we’re gonna drive her over the edge.

Kevin Tumlinson  28:24

I don’t think she’s gonna volunteer. She’s the one who voluntarily put herself into the comments to answer things, so this may be the last time we get this special treat. If you are tuning in, thank you. Be sure to ask us anything you want in the comments. We still have about 15 minutes, so we’re happy to take on any questions you have. We do need to talk about what we’re going to be doing hour-wise, holiday-wise, what are some of the things people need to keep in mind as we get closer to the Christmas holiday and the new year. Who would like to take the reins on talking about holiday hours, etc.?

Dan Wood  29:07

I’ll start with, you’re too late for Christmas. Like, that’s kind of sailed. Apple’s last day was a little while ago. For January 1, you’ve still got like a day. Am I right on that, Tara?

Tara Robinett  29:22

That is correct. Tomorrow.

Dan Wood  29:24

So, end of day tomorrow, get your stuff in if you want it to definitely be live at Apple. I don’t recall what all the, I feel like Apple had the most aggressive dates. And so, just a lot of people and staff from those companies are taking off. Sometimes they shut down their servers to do routine maintenance, what have you, so get your stuff in.

Mark Lefebvre  29:49

Can I put in a plug for one of the awesome features that I don’t think enough authors are taking advantage of? So the retailers like to lock down their systems around holiday time because they don’t want anything to go bad, they just want to sell a lot of books. But when you use the scheduled payment … So let’s say you’re doing a Boxing Week, or some sort of Christmas time promo where their offices are shut down, you go into our promotions tab, schedule your price changes. And what we do is we send the data to the retailer in advance, prior to these cutoff dates, in an onyx file. It sits in their system, and triggers at midnight of the day and triggers back. So you can just sit back and relax and enjoy your eggnog and your Yuletide logs and all the things that you’re doing, and knowing that the systems are going to take care of it for you. So that’s something I really strongly advise you, try to plan ahead during those, you know, Thanksgiving weekends and stuff like that as well.

Kevin Tumlinson  30:45

I’m going to drop a series of links into the comments real quick. And what we got is a whole bunch of … We’ve got all these forms where you can go and register your book if you want to be a part of our promos. We actually, so Mark is kind of leading the charge on some of that stuff. We have a very special person in my heart who is running the merchandising side. That’s my wife, Kara. But if you are interested in trying to nab some promos, we got a couple going on right now. Mark, you want to talk about … It’s too late for anyone to enter these, but they’re a good example of what we’re doing. You want to talk a little bit about what’s going on?

Mark Lefebvre  31:30

Yeah. So we work collaboratively really well with Apple, with Kobo, with Overdrive. Those are our three that tend to give us the most opportunities for promotions. I think we just, I can’t remember if we are still accepting for one of the Apple promos, but the links you dropped will be perfect to check out. You can always return there and see what’s there. You can always email support to ask about promos we’re soliciting for. But what Kara has been doing lately has been taking … A lot of times we get a lot more great books that we recommend to the retailers, but the retailer can only take 5 or 10% of them. So we’re taking a lot of these books that we feel need some more primetime space, and we’ve created some landing pages using reading lists, which any author can build through Books2Read.com, which is free. Doesn’t matter if you’re published through D2D, traditionally published, publishing through another system. You can create your universal book links and manage your own carousels. So we have two really awesome promos that we’re really going whole hog in. And I know I saw Erin Wright there. She had a book we featured a couple days ago, one of her, probably would have had a cowboy hat romance in it. And it’s Christmas Reads, it’s the 12 books of Christmas. And every day we’re featuring a different Christmas Read. I think Danica Dark is featured. She’s got The Gift, which has been featured today. And then we’ve got carousels. But close to my heart, we also have another promo called “Welcome to the Christmas party, pal.” And it basically features Nothing Lasts Forever at the top, which is the book that Die Hard was based on, because it is a Christmas movie. But then we’ve included a whole bunch of other books that are Christmas themed, maybe not in traditional romance, or Regency romance or whatever. They tend to be more my style of, you know, action adventure, thriller, mystery, mayhem. And so we’re going to be taking a lot of these things that you guys are sharing with us, like if we know you have a promo coming up, that you’ve booked through BookBub, or Written Word Media or someone, and try to give it a little extra exposure. We’ve even taken out ads to try and drive, put your books in front of more people. And the beautiful thing is, with the universal book link, it should help you sell everywhere. Which would be, everyone could win that way. So I’m just so thrilled with the work Kara’s doing there.

Kevin Tumlinson  33:42

Yeah. And I want to say real quick that these little things she’s doing with the 12 books, 12 books of Christmas each day. That’s manual. She does this stuff by hand. She gets up early every morning and does that. So feel free to say something nice to her in an email. Because that’s more work than I’d be willing to put in. 

Tara Robinett  34:00

Thank you Kara, we appreciate you so much.

Dan Wood  34:04

I was always worried about hiring someone in that role, like just the patience it takes and the attention to detail. And then it’s like, oh, she’s been married to Kevin for a long time. If she can put up with him … She knows authors. She knows …

Tara Robinett  34:23


Dan Wood  34:24

It’s like herding cats.

Kevin Tumlinson  34:26

That’s right. So in line with the promotion stuff, Erin asks, she says, “I’m going to be using D2D to distribute my Spanish books and split the payments with my Spanish translator. Do you guys ever offer in-house promotions for foreign languages?”

Mark Lefebvre  34:44

We were … actually, it was funny. We did a recent one where Kobo was looking for French titles, and that’s because Kobo is a Canadian company and has a big French market as well as in France. No, but you know what, reach out to us and remind us of what titles you have. And Kara and I will work with together so when we’re talking with Overdrive, when we’re talking with Apple, we’re talking with Kobo, or for these other promos we’re doing, if we have a theme we can build, there’s nothing to stop us from creating something and trying to help you push your Spanish language books. Now the problem is, I don’t speak the language. So, you know, I can muddle my way through some French so I can at least understand what’s going on. So the challenges there are probably the same challenges you may have is, how do you promote in a language that you’re not as intimately familiar with? 

Kevin Tumlinson  35:30

Right. Yeah, that is challenging.

Dan Wood  35:32

And depending on the language, we have some partners where we’ve worked out agreements for promotions. Like Vivlia, which is largely aimed at the French market. With some of them, like just the structure of them … I would love to do a lot more German promotions, but the way in which we interact with [inaudible], we don’t interact with the actual retailer, we’re interacting with a group that just handles back ends. And so those are things that we’re trying to develop over time in relationships. But we also aren’t directly working with the German retailers.

Kevin Tumlinson  36:07

We have a audiobook question. “I have an audiobook. I’ve nearly finished mastering to upload to Findaway, but it’s not D2D. It’s published traditionally, but I was given audiobook publishing rights. So will I be able to still use Findaway without having the book living on Draft2Digital? I think so. 

Tara Robinett  36:32

Yes. If you will set up your book through our system, click on ebook, enter all the metadata of the file.

Dan Wood  36:39

They don’t need to set it up in our system.

Tara Robinett  36:42

What do they do, just go straight to Findaway?

Dan Wood  36:44

Yeah, they just go straight to Findaway. 

Mark Lefebvre  36:46

Because she has her own file, right. So she doesn’t need to take advantage of that $49 [inaudible].

Dan Wood  36:52

No, but you can let them know that you heard about them through Draft2Digital, and they’ll waive that fee.

Kevin Tumlinson  36:57

You can use our URL. You can use, we have … if you go to findaway.com/D2D, it’ll alert them that you came to them through us. So even though you’re not using us to distribute, they’ll give us credit. 

Tara Robinett  37:15

And waive the fees. Excellent.

Dan Wood  37:19

It’s the same if you’re traditionally published, or if you’re in KU, but you still are looking at making an audiobook, you can use that link. Or just let them know, even after the fact, that you heard about them through Draft2Digital. They’ve been great to us.

Mark Lefebvre  37:32

And don’t forget, you can still take advantage of the books to read, because you can create links to your audiobook. Now it’s a manual process, but it still gives you the control to have a universal audiobook link as well. And even if it’s traditionally published, you can still link to the ebook there. I have, all my traditionally published books, I have Books2Read links for. And so that just keeps it all nice in one place. So you can definitely take advantage of that for the ebook as well.

Kevin Tumlinson  38:00

I should say, I have to make small correction. It’s findawayvoices.com/d2d. If you want to go check that out. And really all it is, it’s the same gateway you would use to sign up for a Findaway account, it’s just letting them know that you came there through us. So we’d appreciate it, you don’t have to do it. But you can totally do that.

Mark Lefebvre  38:22

It just also doesn’t save you the step that we save in the partnership where we take your metadata and you get like ¾ of your data set up on your audiobooks, so you’ll have to keep it in manually there. 

Kevin Tumlinson  38:33

One thing about Draft2Digital is that we have a long standing history of not requiring you to distribute through us in order to use our tools. So you know, we are here to help the authors first. We don’t make any money unless you distribute through us. But we are here to help you either way. So you never have to feel like, you never have to feel obligated. But we do appreciate it. So come on by. Okay, so in all that bouncing back and forth, I lost track of the next question I was going to post so I’ll find that. But in the meantime, is there anything … We’re kind of getting close to wrapping up anyway. Is there anything you guys think is important for everyone to know? Particularly you, Tara. Like, is there anything that if you had to say is the number one burr under the saddle blanket, when it comes to to authors having trouble, writing in. What would you say? And how would you help them out? 

Tara Robinett  39:35

Well, you know, we have tried really, really hard to identify problem areas and do what we can to help you fix those areas. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. I think it used to be a lot harder. But we take your feedback, and we really do use that to make our site better and more user friendly. Kevin, just recently you did a blog about some of Apple’s formatting rules. I think that would be one of the most common hold-ups for people publishing wide. If you’ve only ever used Amazon, there’s no way that you would know Apple has some unique rules. And things like, they want your title in proper title casing, they don’t want to in all caps, they don’t want it in all lowercase letters. That’s just where you physically type in the title of your book in the title metadata field. How you put it on your cover, how you put it in your interior file, that’s up to you. That is your choice. Things like that, it’s just something that you wouldn’t necessarily know about if you’ve never gone wide before and never used Apple before. Descriptions being in all bold, Apple doesn’t want it in all bold text. Again, you would have no way of knowing this. So this just kind of slows your publishing down as reviews come in. And you get told, this is a hang up for Apple, let’s correct this. So those are just a couple of things that I wish more authors knew. There’s no way that you would know this until you try it. But Kevin put out a blog just recently on this that is wonderful information. It’s thorough. And I would recommend everyone check that out. It’ll save you some time.

Kevin Tumlinson  41:23

So I got blanked out for a second and did not hear everything that was said. Are you talking about the Apple …? Okay. I will try to find that and make sure that people …

Tara Robinett  41:35

It was a recent blog post.

Mark Lefebvre  41:38

I think it’s been, I think Elyssa posted it.

Kevin Tumlinson  41:40

Elyssa posted it. Okay. Apple formatting rules and guidelines you should know. So Elyssa, if she hasn’t already, I’m sure she will post that in the comments. So this isn’t a question, but I thought we should post it because I think it’s in the spirit of this time of year. But Clint says, “Tara, Kevin, Dan and Mark as well as the rest of the team, not forgetting Elyssa, I wish you all a happy holiday and our prosperous new year.” We feel exactly the same way. Clint, we wish you and everyone else here just the very best. We know this has been a rough year. But we are very hopeful for 2021. We know that some great things are on the way. And we wish you all the best holiday, safest holiday, healthiest holiday, and a very prosperous new year as well. So thanks for that. Okay, so I think we’re pretty much wrapped up on questions and we’re getting close to the end of the broadcast. So unless, does anyone have any announcements or anything else that we might want throw in right here at the end?

Dan Wood  42:49

For those of you who are distributed to Apple through us, keep an eye out for an email we’re going to be sending out hopefully soon. The Apple team is going to do some workshops for our authors in January. And so we have a couple of time slots available, and depending on demand, hopefully we’ll be able to schedule a few more of those later on in January as well. So keep an eye out on your emails.

Mark Lefebvre  43:16

I should say, we were talking to Kobo this morning about some of the great things that have been happening with Kobo Plus, and authors have a lot of questions. And so we have one of the executives from Kobo has agreed to come on a future Ask Us Anything so we can answer questions on how it works and what territories it’s doing well in, and all that stuff.

Kevin Tumlinson  43:36

So I would like to say here, as we’re wrapping up, that if you haven’t already … I know that a lot of people end up watching these on YouTube or elsewhere. And some people are saying, you know, I do want to use Draft2Digital, but I’m not ready yet. I’d encourage you to go ahead and sign up and get an account going. Because one, you can go through all the tedious stuff and get it out of the way, so you don’t have to do it later when you’re ready to hit Publish. But two, you’ll get on our mailing list for marketing emails, and all that sort of thing. So every time we make new announcements, you’ll know about it and you’ll hear about what’s available. That’s the fastest easiest way we have of letting you know all the cool stuff that’s coming up. So go sign up for an account and you don’t have to publish right away. You don’t have to do anything right away. Just having the account will be enough. So go do it. Alright, I think we’re at the end and we’re going to wrap up for this this week’s Ask Us Anything. We’re actually going to start doing these a little more regularly, once a month. I think we’ve them got set up for the third Thursday of every month. I will double check that, I’ve been moving things around so much that I can’t remember exactly what I landed on. But we’re gonna be doing an Ask Us Anything like this once a month. Even if it’s not an Ask Us Anything, we’re gonna have someone here to just kind of field questions and talk to you about what happening in the world of D2D and indie publishing in general. So make sure that you go to D2D … Well, I might want to pop up the actual URLs. But make sure you go to D2Dlive.com. Bookmark that, that’s where you’ll get a countdown of everything that’s happening. And make double sure you are following us on YouTube and Facebook. If you’re on YouTube, just hit the little subscribe button right now and the little bell notification. That way you’ll know when we have new stuff coming out. And you can do something similar on facebook.com. Go to facebook.com/draft2digital. You can follow us there and you’ll get things pop up in your newsfeed. That way, you know when we’re doing new stuff. So thank you so much for tuning in. Tara, thank you for helping us out this week. Elyssa, in the comments, Elyssa has done an amazing job. So thank you, Elyssa. And of course Dan and Mark, you guys did pretty okay too. All right. We’ll see you all next time, everybody. Take care.